Crouch is a state which crushes highs and can block lows. It's done with DB, D, or DF. Crouch enters the stances full crouch (FC) and while standing (WS), among others, giving access to new moves and preventing the use of regular standing moves. These stances also prevent sidestepping into the foreground.
Take care to distinguish the stance (which moves you can use) from the state (whether highs are crushed and lows blocked). The state is decided entirely by whether or not D is held, whereas the stance is more particular.
Full crouch (FC or crouching level 2) is a stance entered after holding DB, D, or DF for 11 frames. It gives access to moves listed as while crouching in the in-game movelist.
When a player recovers crouching—either by being forced into crouch, or by doing a move that recovers crouching—they recover in this stance.
Half crouch (hFC or crouching level 1) is a stance entered after holding DB, D, or DF for 6 frames. Moves from this stance are often not listed in the in-game movelist and are for the most part generic crouching moves.
However, some characters have notable hFC moves, such as Yoshimitsu's hFC.df+4 and Jack-7's hFC.db+1. These moves are sometimes considered “full crouch moves that can be done faster than normal full crouch moves”, but that's just because they're actually half crouch rather than full crouch moves.
While standing (WS) is a temporary stance entered by releasing D while in a crouching stance. It gives access to moves listed as “While rising” in the in-game movelist. These moves can be buffered when recovering in crouch, e.g. ws4 is buffered with n+4.
Regular standing moves can't be done from while standing, with the exception of those that use ub, u, or uf inputs.
How long while standing lasts depends on which crouching stance it came from. It lasts 6 frames from full crouch, and 1–5 frames from half crouch (longer if you've been in half crouch longer).
While standing is not technically a distinct stance. Rather, while standing moves are just crouching moves with D released and the crouch stance lingering.
If D is re-held during this lingering, the crouching stances are also re-entered faster. Roughly speaking, every frame that D is released undoes a frame that D was held for. So even though while standing lasts 6 frames from full crouch, full crouch takes 11 frames to fully cancel.
A crouch cancel is any movement that exits crouch without entering while standing. This is done to access standing moves more quickly from crouch.
The dashes take 2 frames, which is one more than they take to do from a standing situation (for some reason there's a special rule that you have to wait an extra frame to dash from crouch), and the last input can't be buffered. Since this is both harder and slower, the only reason to do it is to get a move from those stances. This means that, for example, Lidia's R.f,F+2+3, which is i13, can only punish -15 moves from crouch, even though it can punish -14 moves from standing.
Some moves that normally recover crouching have a special input to instead recover standing. This is sometimes called a crouch cancel as well, but it's a distinct mechanic. The most notable move that can do this is the generic d+1, which can recover standing with d+1,F.
Crouch assist (or crouching level 1.5) is a stance and mechanic whose gory details are terrifyingly convoluted, but the basic idea is that if you crush a high with crouch, you get fast tracked straight to full crouch. This allows you to crouch for only a few frames before doing your punisher instead of the usual 11 (or 6 for while standing).
Crouch assist can be entered from up to the first frame of the startup of the opponent's high (i.e. immediately) and transitions to full crouch after at least 5 frames, and after the high being crushed is finished (i.e. after its last active frame). It can only be entered if distance between the players is less than 2000.00 units (i.e. they're closer than the round start position).
If the high being crushed is in a string, it might never actually “finish” but rather cancel into the next move of the string. For these strings, one can end up “stuck” in crouch assist for an unusually long time.
This can cause trouble because although all WS moves can be done from crouch assist, some but not all hFC and FC moves can be. The moves which can't be done can end up not coming out when they normally would, even if you've been holding D for long enough. There's no rule here. It just depends on the move.
The following list clarifies whether or not a move can be done from crouch assist. The easiest string to test this against is Bryan's 1,4,2.
- ❌ hFC.db+1
- ❌ FC.df+2
- ✔️ FC.df+3
Crouch assist cancel
It's possible to enter crouch assist from some recovery situations before the recovery is actually over. This in some cases allows one to recover faster than usual, completely defying the frame advantage. It can also in most cases be used to override a buffered move. In both cases, it can only work if the opponent has already started their attack before we've recovered, i.e. it can only work starting at -2.
The buffer override makes it possible to do a true option select by buffering an attack and then quickly holding D. If the opponent does a high, crouch assist cancels the attack (and probably dodges a counter hit). Otherwise, the attack comes out as normal.
Master Raven exception
Crouching stances are not handled through global systems, but rather directly in character movesets. This allows for exceptions.
The most notable exception is Master Raven, who can access her standing moves during crouch assist. However, to do this she has to input the standing move without having any neutral inputs during crouch assist, so the most practical application of this is that she can get a “built-in” high crush on moves like df+1, df+2, and db+2 by holding the direction input for a few frames first.
Instant while standing
Instant while standing (iWS) describes a broad range of techniques for performing while standing moves from standing as quickly as possible.
The universal technique to do this is holding D for 6 frames, then releasing it and pressing the attack button on the same frame. Contrary to popular belief, doing any other input (such as a half circle or quarter circle motion) does not make this any faster, but it can help with the timing.
Many characters have crouch dashes which can access while standing moves faster than the universal method, or at the same or similar speed but with added movement.
- 2 added frames. d,f,n: Feng, Nina, Leo, Lili, Paul; b+3+4,db,n: Steve; d,f,f: Eddy.
- 3 added frames. d,d/f,f: Feng, Paul; d,d/f,b,n: Dragunov.
- 4 added frames. f,n,d,d/f,n: Armor King, Bob,Devil Jin, Heihachi, Hwoarang, Jin, Kazuya.
- 6 added frames. Others.
Instant full crouch
Instant full crouch (iFC) describes performing non-generic full crouch moves from standing as quickly as possible.
The universal technique to do this is holding D/B, D, or D/F for 11 frames and then doing the attack. If the direction held overlaps with the directions of the FC move itself, after holding for 31f you will get the FC input - e.g. Geese FC d/f+1 versus FC 1 after 31f of hold.
Notable exceptions are:
- Marduk iFC through his Vale Tudo Stance (VTS) with only 1 added frame at fastest execution or 2 if there is an overlapping VTS move requiring you to cancel the stance with d/b before the FC move - e.g. 3+4,(d/b) <FC move>
- Jack-7 can access FC d/b+1 with only 6 added frames of holding D/B
- Yoshimitsu can access FC d/f+4 with only 6 added frames of holding D/F
- Eddy can access FC 1+2 with only 6 added frames
- Nina can access FC d/f+4 with d,df,D/F+4 with only 8 added frames